Wednesday 30 September 2020

CPF Top Up Sep 2020

The CPF rate will be kept at a base rate of 2.5%  till the end of 2021.

In a world hungry for financial returns, that is an extremely attractive deal. With bonus interest rates on the first $60000 and higher rates for Special and Medisave accounts, you don't have to think much if there's spare funds lying around somewhere. Therefore, this motivation allowed me to put $1000 into my Special account. There are not many months left to fill up the gap for maximum income tax relief.

Tip: Old Pulteney 15 years, salty and delicious honeysuckle

Friday 18 September 2020

The New Buzzword

If someone asks you, there is this word that either excites your senses or scares the life out of you. It has become such a prevalent verb used a lot by government officials, bosses and techies. It has the connotation that one must have a creative mind. Or there must be much resources at your disposal before an idea becomes feasible. Or it's somewhat binary where you do well or simply cannot do. There's really no in between, either you succeed or fail. The word is "Innovate".

In a recent conversation, I came away with a new perspective on how to view this. When you are given a task to innovate, often the approach is to create something new, like ditching a regular phone and in its place, make a smart phone. This is product innovation and probably most commonly heard. An "upgraded" version of innovate is to take the smart phone and find ways to produce it cheaper or add new functions to increase its appeal. This is known as process innovation. Yet another way is to improve the smart phone's sales probability by providing better marketing channels, technical support and delivery time. This is service innovation. The first two types deal with internal stakeholders while the last deals with the external.

Which of the above is the most difficult type of innovation? I think it's product innovation. I also have a feeling that most people correlate innovation with product creation. From a petrol driven vehicle to a fully electric one, this innovation leap is usually onerous and time consuming. That's what a person immediately feels upon hearing that dreaded word. He is defeated before work has even begun. I see much of this in my workplace. Hopefully, I would be able to share this new thinking with more people next time and reduce the stigma of what it means to innovate.

Tip: Masumi Sanka Junmai Daiginjo

Friday 11 September 2020

Push Towards Blockchain

The most exciting industry to be in now is probably technology related. Within it, the domain of cryptocurrency is the most intriguing. It's been 12 years since the first creation of Bitcoin and my guess is the majority of the world is still rather clueless about this technology and its potential advancement.

The Covid situation has taught the world some useful lessons. Medical demands were well beyond planned capacities, people couldn't get out of the house and business supply chains were severely disrupted. The simple message is, "We live in an imperfect world." And this is where I believe blockchain could help resolve some of the issues. Even as the infection numbers continue to rise, researchers are racing against time and desperation grows. Among these, disinformation is a great problem. Whatever numbers we hear in news are controlled. Be it death tolls, vaccine trial successes, job losses, funds expended to sustain businesses etc. I think faith in the government systems and trust in leaders are at a deficit. It's got to do with this huge unknown that the virus brought.

But life must go on and through every disaster, humans ultimately find a way to get up. In this instance, blockchain has a role to play. What it potentially brings to the table are borderless transactions, cashless payments, verifiable information, lower fees and much more. All these seek to improve transaction efficiency, bridge information gap and bring trust back to people to the world we live in. A cryptocurrency is just a product out of this brand new ecosystem. During this evolution, pain would be felt by those who continue to resist as they are forced into a new life/work environment. That's what a single virus could do.

Tip: Ippin Junmai Daiginjo

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Finance Investment Movement 3

I was a sceptic of the sky high prices of cryptocurrencies in general and did not think there was upside for something so volatile and vague. Years ago, I had dabbled into Ether for the hype and did not do much research. However, early this year, I decided to read more into this new digital asset class and trying to understand the future trend. By now, I am convinced that the blockchain technology, along with its associated currencies, are here to stay. If one was to treat a cryptocurrency as an alternative fiat currency, it's not wrong but the key is missing out on the underlying potential. There are not enough examples to show the disruptive impact of blockchain but I believe that day will come when a certain job, function or work becomes irrelevant. People will realize how real and perhaps painful that is. Thus, one of my goals was to invest in Bitcoin but the prices were persistently high around US$12k when I seriously monitored. Then, the stock market dropped last week and the cryptocurrency market followed suit. At US$10k per Bitcoin, I swapped S$500 worth of Ether into it and made my first ever move into this digital currency asset. At worst, I lose this money if Bitcoin becomes useless. But my expectation is in the many years ahead, this amount will multiply in folds beyond any asset class has to offer.

Tip: Loacker Tasnim Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Month of August 2020

It's that time of the year to panic. By now, most companies would have announced their results and could determine what's left to do if the numbers do not look pleasant. I think it's fair to conclude 2020 would be a washout and better to survive while preparing for next year. When I hear stories of jobless friends struggling to cope and helpless people who lost their jobs, it's poignant to count one's blessings.

Personally, it's also the month of my wife's birthday and it gets harder thinking what to get/do. Fortunately, I managed to plan two surprise celebrations with different sets of her dear friends. Separately, I caught up with two ex-colleagues whom I have not seen in years. We spent three hours giving updates. It felt almost like yesterday, the topics flowed along interchangeably and was great fun. Then, at the end of the month, we received news that my wife's grandmother passed away due to old age. This was expected for some time and we were the ones who spoke to her for the last time by the hospital bed before leaving her to rest eternally. Goodbye Ah Ma, you have led an amazing life bringing up the kids and deserve to enjoy this final retirement.

Tip: Roku Gin, easy going on the palette with tonic water